PITTSBURG, Kan. — Inside the Cardiac Rehab department in Ascension Via Christi Hospital you’ll find Nurse Michelle Hardister hard at work with her patients. She helped open the department 31 years ago.

Hardister says a typical day in the Rehab consists of blood pressure being taken, telemetry monitoring, and patient wellness programs coupled with a lot of chatter and laughter.

Those attending Cardiac Rehab may be recovering from a number of heart-related procedures.

“Exercise and socialization play a huge role in patient recovery,” said Hardister. “Patients are not only here to get their physical bodies stronger but to also improve how they feel about their health.”

She said her favorite part of the job is her daily interactions with patients and coming up with exercise plans that fit their individual needs.

Hardister reflected on one patient she says she will never forget:

“She first came in using a wheelchair and as time progressed she went from a walker to not using any assistive devices at all,” Hardister said. “She went from being very nervous to becoming a wonderful advocate for Cardiac Rehab and would encourage our new patients by telling them to ‘Look at me now!’

As a reminder during Heart Month, Hardister suggests being proactive about your health by getting yearly screenings, practicing moderation instead of deprivation, and finding an exercise you enjoy and making it a part of your routine at least 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes.

She adds regular activity not only helps physically but emotionally and mentally as well.